Midwife Pride 11


Here I sit at my kitchen table, sipping a mocha and watching the snow fall outside. Lately, I have been heavy thinking on the topic of pride. It is a subject that I often ponder from time to time. Clearly, too much pride can be a bad thing. However, pride can also be an important trait. I was recently involved in a Facebook discussion about the definition of a midwife. The author had proposed that a midwife is a good friend who assists a woman in finding her own path through birth (I am seriously paraphrasing). The focus of the quote was the “friend” part. This lead to some interesting points and people arguing for and against the simple “friend theory”. One poster pointed out that midwives are much more than friends and hold a lot of responsibility. Another poster argued that all the responsibility lies with the pregnant person and that the concept of the midwife holding responsibility over her was insulting. These discussions have re-kindled a strong passion that I have regarding midwifery and I will try to explain it here. I apologize for the large soap box that I am about to climb onto…..

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First, I am extremely proud to be a Midwife. I have dedicated years of my life to the study of midwifery and continually strive to continue my learning. To me, it is both a profession and a calling, in the true sense of both words. A profession because it involves, study, skill acquisition, continued education and recognized standards. A calling because it requires dedication, an appreciation of the beauty of the process and a genuine love of the process. Historically and traditionally, as midwives we have seriously down played our role and knowledge base, in favor of giving all of the credit to our clients and their families. In my opinion, this has been a mistake, and has allowed for the devaluing and oppression of our work. Now, I must make something absolutely clear, I strongly believe that the pregnant person and the baby deserve vast amounts of glory for their work. One of my crucial roles as a midwife is to support them through the process and allow the Mother to be born along with the baby, through empowerment and strength. Keeping this in mind, we as midwives also deserve a lot of credit for facilitating this process. We are highly trained and have a vast knowledge base, acquired through both “book” learning and experience.

While I may be a type of friend to my clients, I am also much, much more. I do hold some responsibility for their well being, I have been hired to guard their health and safety, to watch over and monitor their progress and intervene when needed. Is this responsibility shared? Absolutely! Do I hold power over them like some kind of overlord? Absolutely not! Do I sometimes have to tell families things that they do not want to hear and make recommendations that they will not like? Yes. Think of a woman, in the thick of a protracted labor with a babe in a “bad” position. Do I have to ask her to do things; like sumo-walk the stairs, spend time on her hands and knees and other various things that she may not like in the moment? Yes. Or a client who has developed a complication during the course of the pregnancy that makes it safer for her baby to be born at a hospital….will I tell the truth and recommend this transfer? Yes. Or a client who is bleeding heavily after the birth…will I act quickly and decisively to stop that bleeding? Yes. These decisions and interventions involve a level of responsibility. A responsibility that I as a trained midwife, who has been chosen by a family, take very seriously.

I strongly believe that we as women and midwives must claim this power and take credit for our skill. We must work and fight for the recognition we have earned. We must educate the public on our skills and be proud of our profession and not be afraid to also take some of the credit. Just as we share responsibility with our clients, we can also share credit. Let’s step out of the shadows and into the light of our awesome work! Let’s claim our power, just as we encourage our families to do, and be proud of the skills and knowledge that we bring to this calling!

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Image credit Monet Nicole


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11 thoughts on “Midwife Pride

  • Plus Size Mommy Memoirs

    You should get on your soapbox more often because you share true words of wisdom! I have such respect for your profession and the passion you have for the work you do. This speaks volumes, "One of my crucial roles as a midwife is to support them through the process and allow the Mother to be born along with the baby, through empowerment and strength." Thank you!!

  • patty

    You go girl! I treasure the time I spent with you learning to be "with women". But, I will also never forget the responsibility that comes with the job……Miss you!

  • Adrianna

    Well said. Midwives have plenty of responsibility, including being held responsible when something goes wrong, which may include legal action and/or jail time! That is heavy-duty responsibility!

  • Unknown

    Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly – a midwife is much much more than a friend, although you might have some clients with whom you become friends over time. You are a highly trained professional, with a great responsibility. Most midwives also happen to be very nurturing, caring people. But I do not confuse the care and respect you have for life and the close bond you create with clients with being a friend.

  • Ede

    As a CNM who is reviewing her career, I see that my job as a midwife has been one of “holding space” to allow the mother to birth in her own way and in her own time (within the realm of safety) while insuring the safety of both mother and baby. This is a phenomenal responsibility which takes a formal education, as well as a well honed sense of the process, and a special relationship with the birth mother and her partner/family. There is a tremendous pride involved with every pregnant woman, whether we birth together or she is referred to birth elsewhere. I believe that every woman, every family deserves that specialized knowledge and attention which is provided by the midwife “holding space.”

    • aubrekate

      Ede, thank you for your thoughts. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that we as midwives “hold space” for birth to unfold. Being able to hold that space requires many things; a certain personality type, strength of will, training and education and a connection to the family. The birthing person deserves to feel immense pride and joy, and it is part of the midwives duties to help make sure she can feel those things. And, I feel, midwives deserve to feel pride in our life’s work as well. Healthy pride is a good thing and it allows us to further our profession in the world when we stand up and educate the public about what we do. Ultimately, this will aid our families as we gain a wider audience, then attracting more people to practice midwifery and more families to choose a midwife.

  • Bridget Sheeran

    I have read your passion and well done for putting it into words. My comments are that words are so important, and misinterpretation is common within our Midwifery world. For instance, the example you gave re responsibility ‘Another poster argued that all the responsibility lies with the pregnant person and that the concept of the midwife holding responsibility over her was insulting.’ I wondered if possible misinterpretation was in this? The midwife is also a person and how she behaves holds responsibilities – she could DO LESS or DO MORE!!
    Also, claiming power and taking credit for our skill – we are human, so I can understand that, but it feels less of a midwifery ethos to publicly do this, because we recognise the awesomeness (in the old use of this word!) of the powers of Nature, and the nature of the pregnant women & the birthcare worker together – who knows which is which or definitively mark the separation of this in any one incident of ‘power’ or skill? Your statement that we ‘We must work and fight for the recognition we have earned. ‘ I do not find that we have earned recognition – that’s the problem, we have the skills, the willingness to truly be with women and the history of our profession. I agree with your last sentence ‘be proud of the skills and knowledge that we bring to this calling!’ and much of your decision making, plus the other person writing ‘midwives are much more than friends and hold a lot of responsibility’. We need above all, moral courage to PROFESS midwifery and relieve ourselves from our current experience of modern day oppression – without ‘claiming’ power or credit ….or be forever in conflict with ourselves and women, not to mention other professions.

    • aubrekate

      Bridget, thank you for your words and thoughts. I am very aware of how we as humans can misinterpret words, in this instance however there was no miscommunication. I asked for clarity and the reply was very clear: the word “insulting” was directly used to describe any relationship where the midwife had responsibility around the birth. I am not suggesting that this is a common belief among midwives but I have encountered it more than once. I think we will have to agree to disagree…I believe 100% that midwives deserve and have earned recognition for our work. I believe that humility is necessary in this work but that does not mean we should also not have healthy pride in our life’s endeavors. I also think that our thoughts are more similar than different, that they are simply small variations in viewpoints but our underlying heart and soul are in alignment.